Calcutta: Sania Mirzas shock decision on Monday to pull out of the Bangalore Open and to stop playing in India for now to avoid controversies elicited a strong reaction from city-based tennis luminaries. While former Davis Cup captain Naresh Kumar felt it was a hasty decision, Arjuna Award recipient Jaidip Mukerjea said she must rethink her move. Former Davis Cupper and Fed Cup captain Enrico Piperno felt the Indian tennis sensation wilted under pressure. And for Akhtar Ali, former Davis Cup coach, Sania became the victim of politics.
The following are excerpts from what they had to say (alphabetically):
AKHTAR ALI: This is a sad day for Indian tennis. That something like this should happen to a dedicated professional like Sania is extremely unfortunate. She became the victim of sheer politics. She has done so much for this country, single-handedly catapulting ladies tennis on to the world stage. This (controversy) has been going on for some time now and she finally gave in to the pressure.
NARESH KUMAR: If her move is mainly due to the controversies that have been dogging her, I dont think such a hasty decision was necessary. I really wonder what prompted her to do it, whether she was under threat or anything like it. Whatever it is, I hope she can overcome her difficulties and continue to play in India. It is really sad that things have arrived to such a pass. If it is indeed a threat which forced her to pull out, it must have been of a very serious nature. We will miss out on watching Sania take on the Williams sisters at home.
JAIDIP MUKERJEA: I think any player would love to play in her home country, the place where she is worshipped, idolised. I dont know what prompted her pullout but she must rethink her decision. Her fan base is in India. She must reverse her move. I dont think she was under any sort of threat. It is a very unfortunate turn of events and I feel this will affect her fan base and popularity. Slowly, she may end up losing her sponsors too.
ENRICO PIPERNO: I think it is a personal decision. We have to respect it. It seems she wilted under the combined pressure of controversies and the media glare. The tennis-loving fraternity in India stands to lose. I hope she changes her mind in the near future. It is also true that she doesnt like to play in Bangalore due to the altitude factor.
Venus Williams to play in Bangalore: Page 19